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Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Lent
Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Lent Cycle A
"One thing I know is that I was blind and now I see." (John 9)
Sister Gerard Wald
John Killinger tells the story of a man who visited one day in a classroom for visually impaired children. Troubled by what he saw, the man remarked, insensitively, "It must be terrible to go through life without eyes." One little girl quickly responded, "It's not half as bad as having two good eyes but still not being able to see." Her point was well made. There is physical blindness, and there is another, even more tragic form of blindness that affects the spirit. Both forms of blindness are present in today's Gospel reading.
This is the Fourth Sunday in Lent. Traditionally, this day is known as Laetare Sunday, from the Latin word for the command “rejoice." The antiphon and the readings both express the Church's joy in anticipation of the Resurrection.
Today’s readings both remind us that it is God who gives us proper vision in body as well as in soul, and instructs us that we should be constantly on our guard against spiritual blindness.
Paul reminds Christians of our responsibility as children of light: “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light, for light produces every kind of goodness, righteousness and truth.” Jesus’ giving of sight to a blind man, reported in today’s Gospel, teaches us the necessity of opening the eyes of the mind by faith, and warns us that those who pretend to see the truth are often blind, while those who acknowledge their blindness are given clear vision. In this episode, the most unlikely person, namely the blind man, receives the light of faith in Jesus, while the religion-oriented, law-educated Pharisees remain spiritually blind. "There are none so blind, as those who will not see." To live as a Christian is to see, to have clear vision about God, about ourselves and about others.
The healing of the blind man, told so dramatically in today's Gospel, brings out the mercy and kindness of Jesus, "the light of the world." Jesus gave to the blind beggar not only his bodily eyesight, but also the light of faith. This story also shows how the pride and prejudice of the Pharisees, prevented them from seeing the "Son of Man” the long-expected Messiah, and that made them incapable of recognizing a miracle. When the parents of the blind man convinced them that their son had been born blind, the Pharisees argued that the healer was a "sinner," because the miracle had been performed on the Sabbath. But the cured man insisted that Jesus, his healer, must be from God. The blind man was asked: "Who healed you?" First he answered, “A prophet healed me.” Then he answered, “The Son of Man healed me.” Finally, when he realized who Jesus was, he fell down on his knees and worshipped him.
From earliest times, today's Gospel story has been associated with Baptism. Just as the blind man went down into the waters of Siloam and came up whole, so also we can be healed of the spiritual blindness, with which all of us were born.
Although the Pharisees have long since disappeared from history, there are still many among us who are blinded by the same pride and prejudice. Perhaps, the most awful disease in our country today is spiritual blindness. Such blindness refuses to see the truths of God's revelation. What questions do we need to ask ourselves today, to bring the light of Christ into the world, and heal our spiritual blindness?
Who is Jesus for us today?
• Can we live and walk with Jesus, the light of the world?
• Is our faith in him such that forgiveness is possible in our lives?
• Do we exclude anyone from the mercy and love of God because of a narrow spiritual view?
• How do we foster justice, goodness, truth, and deeds of light for the world?
Our culture has blind-spots. We have become anesthetized to violence, and to the enormous suffering of the world around us. We need to pray for clear vision: Peter Marshall, the former chaplain to the United States Congress used to pray, "Give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for, because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.”
Today’s Gospel challenges our ability to see clearly. Do we see a terrorist in every member of a particular religion? Do we see people who are addicted to drugs as outcasts and sinners? Do we fail to see God at work in our lives? Jonathan Swift said, "Vision is the art of seeing things invisible." Let us remember that this gift belongs to those who can see the good, hidden in the kernels of suffering and of failure.
We are called to discipleship. Our role is to become God's representatives in our community and our world. We are called to stand out by the way we show love and concern for others. We are called to promote justice and peace. To be the light of Christ for the world.
Lent is a good time to renew our vision and fix our eyes again on the Savior, who came so that we can be assured of forgiveness for our blindness, for the times when Jesus has come to us through his Word, and we have been too blind to see Him calling us to action.
Can we say with the blind man: "One thing I know is that I was blind and now I see."